The Rupert Rampage senior men’s AA hockey team are covering all registration fees for Prince Rupert minor basketball this year so kids can play for free.
“We endeavor to help grow youth sports and give kids a chance to learn and love team sports in P.R. This is our goal - to eventually make youth sports free for all kids in P.R.,” Brett Stava, president of the Rupert Rampage stated on Facebook Sept. 12.
As a result of their initiative, the P.R. minor basketball association had to turn kids away.
More than 185 youth wanted to play but the league could only support 150, Kerry Crump, president of the P.R. minor basketball, said.
The Rupert Rampage chose to support minor basketball after learning that registration numbers in the sport have been declining over the last couple of years and there are limited burseries for parents to cover the cost of registration, a Facebook post stated.
In 2020, there were fewer than 80 kids registered. This year after registration fees were waived, the number of kids who wanted to sign-up more than doubled.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” Crump said.
In order for fees to qualify for KidSport support, the local association must be aligned with the larger provincial body and the P.R. minor basketball association is not currently aligned, Heidi De Wildt, chair of the KidSport division in P.R. said. This means that P.R. parents can not apply for KidSport to cover minor basketball fees.
“With the cost of living skyrocketing, fuel prices at a record high and player enrollment down, we knew we had to help,” the Rupert Rampage Facebook page stated.
They estimate basketball registration will cost $13,000 to $15,000 and have set up an “Every Child Can Play” fund to collect donations to pay for it.
Profit from popcorn sales made during the Rampage home games will be put toward the fund, as well as revenue from sales of basketball jerseys that were donated by Progressive Steel.
This year it is basketball, but the men’s hockey team aspires to make all sports free for youth in P.R.
Next year their goal is to cover minor hockey fees and there are already a couple of events being planned to start fundraising, a Facebook post states. Proceeds from an ugly sweater party this December and a cash raffle in January will both be put toward the start of fundraising.
“We don’t want to hear any more stories of kids sitting watching because they can’t afford to play. Prince Rupert is the best place to live and raise a family. Your family’s financial status should not ever determine if your kids can play sports,” a Rupert Rampage Facebook post states.